The Jakarta Post is reporting that the Labor Working Group (LWG) has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration calling on the government to tighten regulations on outsourcing. According to the 2003 Manpower Law, companies can only outsource operations outside of their “core business.” Yet, according to the Labor Working Group, this regulation has been impossible to enforce due to the lack of a clear definition of “core business,” which has in turn allowed rampant outsourcing. This attempt to limit outsourcing comes as a second-best option for labor advocates, after a failed attempt in 2004 to directly contest the 2003 Manpower Law.
In denouncing outsourcing, LWG not only points out the more commonly cited downsides to out-sourced jobs (lower pay, employment insecurity, etc), but also draws a link between outsourced labor and the quality of work. Their example, the recent hotel bombings in Jakarta, is a poignant one. According to their thinking, the outsourcing of various staff can compromise the security of a business by emphasizing cost-cutting over well monitored hiring processes and employee relations. In some ways, the argument resembles the campaign by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – Local 32BJ in New York that pushed for the professionalization of security guards in post-9/11 New York City. In both cases, the argument is that stable, quality employment is not only a quality of life issue for employees, but is also an issue of security in the urban environment.